Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Filibuster 14 & Median Voters

On O'Reilly Factor last night Dick Morris suggested something I found intriguing. He suggested that the agreement between the Filibuster 14 is like the creation a new 3rd party in the Senate. He suggested that if the agreement holds, this "new party" can control the Senate with the result being the accomplishment of Social Security Reform and other reforms he thinks are really what the American people really want.

The reason this idea is intriguing is related to the idea that the 7 Republicans and 7 Democrats are (perhaps) people whose policy views put them in the center of the political spectrum. I'm reminded of the median voter model which predicts the outcome of majority voting will be determined by the preferences of the median voter. Is it possible that a 3rd party would emerge around the median voter?

Tony Blankley seems to see the Filibuster 14 much the same way as Morris, except the implications he sees are not so positive:
Well, it would seem that the Senate has been placed in to receivership by 14 self-appointed trustees, several of whom are among the Senate's most wanton exhibitionists. Some of these ladies and gentlemen can be seen almost daily preening in front of television cameras confessing their moral superiority over their colleagues by virtue of their lack of firm convictions and their unwillingness to be team players.

Ironically, they have just formed the most exclusive club in the Senate. . . .
Let no one assume that this little assemblage of selfless senators will limit the reach of their writ to the matter of judicial appointments. As if one couldn't guess, on Monday night Sen. Lindsey Graham — the Tom Sawyer of the Senate — looking all twinkly eyed and mischievous into the television camera, promised that the wonderful 14 would soon be announcing their plan to reform Social Security. Tomorrow the World!

So begins the Regency Period of the Senate. As long as these fourteen stick together, nothing can pass the Senate.
Morris sees potential for accomplishments that would not otherwise have happened, while Blankly emphasizes nothing being accomplished. Perhaps we should also take note that Blankly's commentary points out that Senator Graham has already pointed to being able to accomplish Social Security reform.

Over at Captain's Quarters, Captain Ed also seems to take the negative view on the Filibuster 14:
Now we have a situation where our hard-fought majority has completely dissipated, to be replaced by a board of trustees that have arrogated leadership to themselves without even consulting the members of their caucuses, especially those in the GOP. And as Blankley points out, they have no intention of giving up that power as long as they can stay united. They intend on delivering Lindsay Graham's Social Security package and forcing it down the Senate's throat, complete with tax increases and an abandonment of privatization and ownership of one's retirement funds, despite a similar system for Congressmen and Senators that far outperforms Social Security. What other deals have they cut in secret, back-room negotiations? We will soon find out.
Let's add one more point of view to this mix from Glenn Reynolds:
. . . . Americans, for the most part, don't share in the reflexive hostility to religion found in the upper reaches of journalism and the academy. On the other hand, Americans don't like self-righteous busybodies -- whether of the PC left or the religious right -- telling them how to live, either.

There's a relatively small group -- under 20% of the electorate, I'd guess -- that would really like to recast American society under far more religiously determined lines. That's enough to steer the Republican party to disaster, as a similar group has done for the Democrats, but not enough to win elections much. The Democrats' problem, of course, is that they're even more dominated by their fringe than the Republicans, and the fact that the media establishment tends to share those views will make it harder for them to extricate themselves from this fix.
If both the existing political parties are moving farther to the extremes of right and left, which might be suggested by Reynold's comments, could we see a new party emerge from the realm of the median voter?

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